By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, April 24, 2005.

The Martial Arts has long been known for its self-defense techniques, but has not been properly acknowledged for its heritage in the arts. It is very easy for the public to overlook the aesthetics that are inherent in the Martial Arts because fancy kicks and punches dominate in the movies. People really must look very closely to identify where they exist. If one examines the Martial Arts they can find them in ceremonies, exercises/demonstrations, katas/forms, and spirituality.

Ceremonies are done when students receive new rank and/or become instructors. There are aesthetic aspects to ceremonies that can make them very beautiful. The arrangement of furniture, plants, flowers, podium, the attire worn during the ceremony can really create the atmosphere. Ceremonies occur because of the significance of the moment; therefore, there is a sense of admiration and acknowledgement for the special event.

Exercises can be very artistic depending on what is being performed and what system of Martial Arts is being applied. For example, Tai Chi exercises flow very gracefully and softly, and the movements themselves can be very aesthetic. Other Martial Arts systems like Woo Shoo, Kung Fu, etc. can be very beautiful.

Demonstrations show coordination and symmetry. The whole group works together to maintain an alignment of movement. It is a performance particularly for an audience to express creativity, and give the public a taste of what those practitioners are learning.

Katas/forms are basically a combination of techniques put together to be performed like a dance. It is performed as if someone was attacking the practitioner. The practitioner puts his own characteristics and personality into the performance. It becomes an artistic expression because everyone is different in their expression of art.

Spirituality is the essence of art because it is an expression of who you are as a being. Art closely resembles that of the being itself. Art is a wavelength that closely resembles a spiritual being because the being itself is aesthetic. Wavelengths can be measured, and each artistic item will have different wavelengths. Beings are creative. They can create and destroy at will. They can create a mock-up, arrange it, rearrange it, and destroy it. Start the whole process over and over again.

Art is only art when it can communicate and evoke a response. Art is a very high echelon of mental creativity. It is an ability to communicate a mental concept. There are many avenues for artistic value in the Martial Arts it can be seen in ceremonies, demonstrations, exercises, katas/forms, and spirituality. It is a myth to believe that it is necessary to use stimulants to be creative. Any artist worth his weight in gold can create and be productive without the use of any kind of stimulant. A real artist has confidence and certainty in his ability to create, and never has to be dependent upon anything other than his own mental capabilities.